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93 Million Cellular PC Modem Upside in 2010

Wireless network modem shipments in 2009 topped 72 million units, a significant growth over the 46.4 million units shipped during 2008. According to the latest market study by ABI Research, both volumes pale in comparison with the expected 93 million units expected to ship in 2010.

The overwhelming majority of these modems are found in the USB dongle form factor rather than embedded in their host devices. "Many new mobile broadband networks are being deployed right now," says ABI Research principal analyst Jeff Orr.

The HSPA and HSPA+ protocols, as well as 4G WiMAX and LTE, are luring new broadband service subscribers who want their existing computing and communications devices to be enabled for those networks.

Orr adds, "We find that new computer sales with embedded modem modules are being adopted between 9 and 12 months after the new network services launch, while USB modems are an immediate upgrade opportunity."

ABI practice director Kevin Burden says, "The USB modem is the most efficient, lowest cost, quickest and easiest way to take any wireless device online in the widest range of locations. It's a familiar interface, compact, easy to carry, and convenient."

ABI sees the USB modem continuing to provide strong growth to this segment for the medium-term at least. Chinese vendors have been making deep inroads in this market, making the most of their high-volume, low overhead manufacturing capabilities.

Indeed they have been so successful that last quarter one European vendor, the Belgian firm Option Wireless, asked the EC to investigate possible dumping within its member states. According to ABI, that investigation is still in progress.

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